A Washington, D.C., appeals court on Thursday refused to decide whether Donald Trump can be shielded from the first of two defamation lawsuits by E. Jean Carroll, a writer who said the former U.S. president raped her nearly three decades ago.
The district’s highest local court, the Court of Appeals, said it did not have enough facts to decide whether Trump was acting as president when he accused the former Elle magazine columnist in June 2019 of lying about the alleged encounter.
It sent the case back to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, which had last September sought the court’s guidance. The Washington court said the 2nd Circuit or a federal district judge in Manhattan should assess Trump’s role.
Lawyers for Trump and Carroll were not immediately available for comment.
The decision for now preserves both of Carroll’s lawsuits against Trump over their alleged encounter in late 1995 or early 1996 in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan.
After Carroll described the incident in a June 2019 New York magazine excerpt from her memoir, Trump told a reporter at the White House that he did not know Carroll, that “she’s not my type,” and that she concocted the rape claim to sell her book.
He largely repeated his denial in October 2022, when he called the rape claim a “hoax,” “lie,” “con job” and “complete scam” on his Truth Social media platform.
A trial over the second alleged defamation is scheduled for April 25 in Manhattan federal court. Trump is seeking to delay that trial.